Use of Pronouns by Yonah Rossman


Parashat Shemot begins by listing the names of Yaakov's descendants who traveled to Mitzraim. Rashi points out that the mentioning of Bnei Yaakov seems rather superfluous, as this had already been mentioned earlier. He answers that this repetition demonstrates Hashem’s love for Bnei Yaakov.

Although it seems very simple, Rashi’s explanation teaches us a significant lesson. The Pesukim dealing with Yaakov’s descendants contain an overwhelming amount of pronouns. However, a minute amount of pronouns exist in the Pesukim that discuss life in Mitzrayim (except for Moshe); we see the use of names only regarding Shifrah and Puah. A clear example of the lack of names is the first two Pesukim in Perek Bet, which state, "Vayeilech Ish MiBeit Levi VaYikach Et Bat Levi VaTahar HaIsha VaTeiled Bein” “And a man from the house of Levi took the daughter of Levi and the woman conceived and gave birth  (Shemot 2:1-2).” Perhaps the lack on names when describing life in Mitzraim is because contrary to Hashem and the Jewish people, the Egyptians tried to demoralize us, and therefore our names were meaningless. The names of Shifrah and Puah were mentioned because they were not treated as subhuman, as they were Egyptian nurses. Moshe's name was also used because he was raised as a Mitzri, not a despised Jew. The contrast between the two peoples and their ways is one that affected our forefathers and still affects us today. In Germany, during the Holocaust, demoralization was the Nazis’ main psychological weapon. In Israel nowadays, this is epitome of Israel’s dilemma in Gaza and against all terrorists. Like the Mitzrim, terrorists do not value dignity and life. Therefore, it is our job as the Jewish people to continue to keep our morals, to always value actions that enhance life instead of diminishing it.

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